ASASU court could overturn USGT election result again

Several possible constitutional rights violations were brought to the court's attention, postponing inauguration and a final decision until mid-May

The Associated Students of ASU Supreme Court will investigate "many potential Constitutional Right infringements" brought to their attention after the Jester v. Fees opinion named the Palmer ticket the next to hold executive office for Undergraduate Student Government Tempe.

"The Court is not overturning the decision in Jester v. Fees, but does not leave the possibility off the table," the opinion says.

In the statement rendered April 30, the court announced the inauguration of the winning executive ticket would be postponed until a later date and a decision would be made after finals.

READ MORE: Palmer ticket to hold USGT office despite losing runoff election

"In light of the response, it's clear the USG 2020 elections remain contested," said Max Fees, USGT presidential candidate and a junior studying civic and economic thought and leadership. 

The Fees ticket — with Fees for president, Jack Fuller for vice president of policy and Emma Short for vice president of services — won the popular vote in the runoff but was disqualified with 15 infraction points for violating campaign and election rules

READ MORE: ASASU announces USGT executive runoff and misappropriated senate seats

In a social media post from the Fees campaign team, the group responds to violations they received infraction points for, including promotion of the election by a non-campaign staff member, damage of campaign materials on social media and the proposal of injuring an opponent. 

"It is our considered opinion that the Elections Department and the ASASU Supreme Court has misapplied the Elections Code and infringed upon students' right to free speech and as a result, reversed a democratic election," the post reads. 

For all infraction points received, the Fees ticket said the Palmer ticket — with Jacqueline Palmer for president, Kajol Kapadia for vice president of policy and Joshua Freid for vice president of services — has two burdens to prove: The first that there was a violation, and the second that it caused significant injury. 

"In regards to the Court's decision as a whole, they are unable to specify the reason as to why they have the authority to punish 'malicious intent,' 'Instagram comments' nor 'probable harm' when none of these words appear ANYWHERE in the elections code," the post says. 

The post also says the court's opinion to "punish" student interaction with social media content is a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech and expression. 

When it came to other violations, linked to the actions of non-campaign staff members, the Fees ticket's post says the elections code does not say it is a punishable offense for not educating supporters of the elections code. 

Due to the Supreme Court being made up of students, they announced they would seek counsel with experts who have more knowledge of the First and 14th Amendments.

Palmer said her ticket was "blindsided" and "shocked" when the Court revealed their decision in a question-and-answer forum between the two tickets earlier this week. 

The forum was meant to be a space to talk about the Fees ticket's concerns regarding the First Amendment, but the new timeline was announced instead.

"Overall, we are happy to see that the administration is taking this seriously with guided counsel," Fees said. 

If the Court does overturn the results of the election, Palmer, the current USGT president-elect and a junior studying political science, business law and marketing said results from every campaign will be in question too, since every candidate was following the same rules. 

"I'm not too worried about results being overturned," Palmer said. "That seems a little extreme."

The Court will reconvene after finals week to discuss additional documents submitted from both the Palmer and Fees tickets. 


Reach the reporters at pjhanse1@asu.edu and follow @piperjhansen on Twitter. 

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